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The greatest science-fiction story ever written/《史上最伟大的科幻小说》全文

时间:2010-11-25 17:58:24  来源:  作者:

《自然》刊登“史上最伟大的科幻小说”引发解读热潮
给量子力学披上幽默外衣


《史上最伟大的科幻小说》译文摘编

我展开一页单薄的信纸,署名是科幻年选的编辑,起首语是我的名字——这开头依然能让我感到一丝温暖,哪怕经历了这么多年的退稿。

“祝此文能于他处另寻高就”,这还是一封退稿信。我把信胡乱塞进文件,突然觉得一阵绝望,也许我就不是当科幻作家的料。

第二天,在办公室附近的餐馆,我对卡勒布说(他是和我共事的一位量子回路专家),这辈子我不指望我的名字能上杂志了。

“别放弃,”他说,“你是很棒的作家。”他读过我的小说,以便告诉我哪些地方的科学部分被我弄错了。

我耸耸肩,“如果我不写编辑想买的东西,再好也白搭。”

“为啥不写呢?”

“为啥不写?说得容易,”我说,“我根本不知道编辑喜欢什么。”

“这么说这是主观的了。”卡勒布咬了一口汉堡,若有所思地嚼着。

“是啊,”我说,“一个编辑觉得根本不值得发表的东西,在另一个编辑看来可能是有史以来最伟大的科幻小说。只是凭我的运气,喜欢我文章的编辑大概不存在吧。”

卡勒布说:“你错了,你需要一篇能够自己适应编辑口味的小说。”

我拿起一块纸巾在嘴唇上蘸了两下。“我刚告诉过你,我不知道怎么写他们想要的东西。”

“没错。”卡勒布从我手中夺过纸巾,在桌上摊平,从口袋里掏出一支笔,随手画了条曲线。“这是个概率函数,正确的文字组合让他们买下小说,错误的组合意味着不买。而如果这是概率函数的话,量子计算机可以处理它。”他草草写下一个方程,“伙计,这玩意会带来一场出版业革命的。”

我茫然地盯着他。

“这本书印在纸上,但它的文本是用量子计算机写成的,类似于我们办公室那台计算机。我们利用程序制造一个量子概率波函数,直到有人去观测书里的内容时,函数就会坍缩。”卡勒布面带满意的笑容。

“而当波函数坍缩时……”我还不太明白这意味着什么。

“这本书会针对那个使之坍缩的人,变成(对此人而言)有史以来最好的书。”卡勒布身体前趋,“我们可以拿它来确保你的名字上杂志,你愿意成为有史以来最伟大的科幻小说的作者吗?”

稿件准备复印,我盯着打印机里的一摞纸。“你确信我不能看一眼吗?”

“如果你看了,波函数就会坍缩,故事就会变成你眼中最好的小说,而不是编辑眼中的,他必须第一个看到。”卡勒布说。

两个月后,我收到回信。我拿着它去了办公室——我想和卡勒布一起打开。

扫过我的姓名,我念出声来:“在我看来,这是有史以来最伟大的科幻小说。”我的心脏要跳出嗓子眼了,“这无疑是你投递过的所有小说中最好的一篇。可你到底发什么昏,居然以为你能一字不动地把阿西莫夫的《日暮》(注:《日暮》是科幻小说家艾萨克·阿西莫夫1941年发表的短篇小说,因其构思独特,成为科幻小说的经典样板)照抄过来,还不被发现吗?”
 


Eric James Stone
Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
467,
Page:
1146
Date published:
(28 October 2010)
DOI:
doi:10.1038/4671146a
Published online 27 October 2010
A real page-turner.
 

The greatest science-fiction story ever written

I tore open the self-addressed, stamped envelope and unfolded the single sheet of paper inside. The letter was signed by the editor of Analog Science Fiction and was addressed to me, personally, which still gave me a warm feeling after all those years of form rejections. But what I craved now was an acceptance.

And ... this wasn't it. Good luck placing this elsewhere, the letter read.

I shoved the rejection in my overstuffed file with the rest of them. Eyeing the four-inch-thick wad of paper, I felt a wave of despair. Maybe I didn't have what it took to be a science-fiction writer. Maybe I should just give it up — after all, I worked for a quantum-computing start-up. That was almost science fiction, even if all I did was manage the website. Maybe that was as close as I'd ever get.

The next day, while having a mint Oreo shake at a restaurant near my office, I told Caleb, one of the quantum-circuit experts I worked with, that I doubted I'd ever see my name in print.

“Don't quit,” he said. “You're a great writer.” He'd read a few of my stories to give me feedback on where I'd got the science wrong.

I shrugged. “Doesn't matter, if I'm not writing what editors want to buy.”

“Why don't you?”

“Why don't I? It's not that easy,” I said. “There's no way of knowing what an editor will like. I write the best story I can, but apparently that's just not good enough.”


JACEY
“So it's subjective.” Caleb took a bite of his burger and chewed thoughtfully.

“Yeah,” I said, playing with the last spoonful of shake in my cup. “What one editor thinks isn't worth publishing, another might think is the greatest science-fiction story ever written. It's just my luck that the editor who would love my stuff isn't actually an editor anywhere.”

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